by KYW’s David Madden

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — If you’ve ever been stung by a jellyfish, you know how painful that experience can be. Now there’s a breed of clinging jellyfish that’s made its way into inland waterways in New Jersey, but thankfully, not around here. At least, not yet.

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This one is tiny, and carries quite a bite. Gary Buchanan heads up science research and environmental health for New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’s a small, hydrozoan jellyfish. It can be the size of about a dime up to a quarter that’s basically found in very shallow waters that have either vegetation or algae,” Buchanan told KYW Newsradio. “It’s called clinging because it actually has little pads on its tentacles that helps it cling to vegetation.”

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Dr. Gary Buchanan (credit: NJDEP)

Dr. Gary Buchanan
(credit: NJDEP)

Or a person, as one college student learned first-hand last month. He had to be hospitalized for a couple of days after wading into the Shrewsbury River in Monmouth County. The clinging jellyfish, known to be a pest in Massachusetts and parts of Japan, China, and Russia, are confined to the Shrewsbury and Manasquan Rivers, although statewide tests are being conducted to be on the safe side.

Can they migrate into the Atlantic Ocean and head south? Buchanan thinks that’s unlikely. “They’re tiny. They’re small,” he said. “They’re not going to be able to survive the waves that would tear them up. There’s typically no vegetation on a beach.”

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But back bays and inland waterways, particularly in North Jersey, could be another thing. He suggests anyone thinking of entering the Shrewsbury or Manasquan Rivers wear waders as a precaution.